How to Get on SpaceX's Inspiration4 Mission, the First Ever All-Civilian Space Flight

Elon Musk's SpaceX announced on Monday that the company's first all-civilian flight into Earth's orbit could take place this year.

The mission, Inspiration4, is tentatively scheduled to take off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on or around October 21, 2021—but more broadly limited to "no earlier than the fourth quarter of this year."

The four-person crew, onboard a Dragon spacecraft, will move across a low earth orbit on a multi-day flight that will "eclipse more than 90 percent of the earth's population," according to a website set up to describe the mission and its parameters.

It is being funded and led by Jared Isaacman, 37, founder and chief executive officer of a company called Shift4 Payments, who secured the deal in a private transaction with SpaceX. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Isaacman has a real time net worth of roughly $2 billion, according to a profile published by Forbes.

While space has long been viewed as the territory of expert astronauts, Inspiration4 is being made accessible to winners of a sweepstake and a Shift4 Payments contest— meaning that you have a chance of participating in the mission. The scheme is being conducted in collaboration with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Isaacman will take the commander seat. CNN reported a second was awarded to a St. Jude ambassador. Their identity was not revealed, but they were described as a female frontline healthcare worker who is "committed to helping kids beat cancer."

The remaining seats are set to go to a person who supports St. Jude in a sweepstake, and an entrepreneur who is deemed to be "embodying prosperity."

To enter the sweepstake, people are asked to make a $10 or more donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. However, there is no requirement to donate in order to enter and an alternative method is via a free form that was published online.

To enter the contest, people are being asked to sign up for Shift4Shop or be an existing Shift4Shop customer, and complete the following five steps:

  • Utilize the eCommerce tools at Shift4Shop to build your business website and offer products and services for online purchase;
  • Enter into a Shift4 Payments merchant processing agreement, and go-live with your store so that third parties can purchase goods and services on the website;
  • Create a video of no more than 2 minutes 20 seconds that describes your inspirational entrepreneurial story;
  • Post the video on Twitter, including the URL of your Shift4Shop online store and the hashtag #inspiration4contest
  • Complete the entry form sent to the email address used to sign-up for your Shift4Shop account to verify your entry, including a link to the video.

The St. Jude sweepstake and contest will run from February 1 to February 28. Winners will be selected in early March by a panel of judges based on: inspirational nature of the video, overall entertainment value, virality of video and entrepreneurial spirit.

The judges have not been named. All winners will have to undergo a series of checks, including background, medical, psychological and mission training. They will also be subject to non-disclosure agreements and high risk activity waivers.

In a statement, SpaceX said the crew will receive "commercial astronaut training" on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, alongside "orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing."

SpaceX boss Elon Musk told reporters on Monday that he would not personally be on the Inspiration4 mission. He said: "I'll be on a flight one day, but not this one."

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
In this NASA handout image, A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASAs SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX announced on Monday that the company’s first all-civilian flight into Earth’s orbit could take place this year. Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty